Blue Jackets keep paying big, avoid arbitration with Marc Methot for 4-years, $12M

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For years, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been wallflowers as the Western Conference playoff dances came into full swing. Even in their one appearance on the dance floor, they didn’t earn a single win and essentially did their Carlton impression during an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Blue Jackets haven’t been shy during this 2011 off-season, however. To extend the high school dance metaphor, GM Scott Howson spiked the punch (signing James Wisniewski to a risky deal) then forced a dance with a cheerleader (trading for Jeff Carter) much to the chagrin of a potential future sweetheart (Howson traded a first round pick that ended up being Sean Couturier in the Carter deal). Who knows if these gambles will improve Columbus enough for them to become a genuine contender, but their days of being the anonymous dude in the corner are probably over.

Marc Methot isn’t the type of name to move tickets or stop hearts, but he played a big role on the Blue Jackets’ beleaguered blueline the last two seasons (19+ minutes per game each year) and was headed for what might have been a reasonably lucrative salary arbitration hearing. That won’t end up happening, though, as he agreed to a hefty four-year, $12 million deal today. Here are some details about the contract and the negotiation process between the two sides via Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch.

Methot, a restricted free agent, had filed for salary arbitration with the NHL by today’s 5 p.m. deadline, but that was strictly a procedural move. He made it clear to his agent, Larry Kelly, that he wanted to get a deal done quickly.

The deal will pay Methot $2.25 million this season, followed by $2.75 million in 2012-13, $3.25 million in 2013-14 and $3.75 million in 2014-15. He could have been an unrestricted free agent next summer.

“This is where I want to be and where I want to play,” Methot said. “I’m comfortable here. I’m excited about where this team is headed, and I really wanted to make sure I was a part of that. I’ve made a lot of friends in Columbus, even outside of the hockey world.

“Giving up the free agency years was pretty easy for me, because I know where I want to be.”

My initial reaction to the deal probably matched a lot of other peoples’ feelings: “Yuck.” That being said, his annual salary isn’t that far out of line with players of his ilk. He’s the hockey equivalent of an “innings eating pitcher,” a guy who won’t wow you but can play a lot of minutes and be reasonably responsible in his own end.

Blue Jackets blog The Cannon described his better-than-expected impact on the team’s 2010-11 season.

Marc Methot turned out to be a surprising gem under Scott Arniel, logging 20 minutes a night (and averaging more time on the PK than any d-man except Klesla) and frequently laid his body on the line at both ends of the ice. Methot lead the Jackets’ D-corps with 176 hits, and came in fourth in blocked shots with 98. Though he was the only d-man not to score a goal, he was also the only d-man who saw virtually no time on the power play – a bit surprising when you think of how many combinations Scott Arniel went through trying to find a winning formula.

Though he had his share of bad plays and gaffes, he was still one of only four Jackets’ d-men to finish with a positive +/- rating (and the only one who played in Columbus the entire season). Interestingly, over half of his PIMs this year came against Chicago and St. Louis, including both of his fighting majors this season. Think he’s bought into the rivalry?

If nothing else, the Blue Jackets are clearly buying into him (and their ability to actually become serious rivals to the Blackhawks, Blues and any other number of NHL teams).